The Bahamas National Trust and The Elizabeth Harbour Conservation Partnership has created a survey to better understand the views of cruising residents and visitors to George Town, Exuma. Your feedback is valuable in helping us to enhance your experience in the Elizabeth Harbour and the Moriah Harbour Cay National Park. Thank you for participating in our survey!
Established in 2002 and expanded in 2015, The Moriah Harbour Cay National Park is a newer addition to The Bahamas national park system and has the potential to be an exceptional example of a protected area with community-based conservation. By working with local stakeholders, the BNT is creating opportunities for world-class ecotourism, inspiring restoration and protection of threatened species, traditional resource use, and citizen-science experiences that create memories of a lifetime.
Currently, the main park visitor experiences include:
Basil’s Classroom and the trails on the eastern end of Stocking Island where you can learn more about the ecosystems of the park and take in some breathtaking views, The snorkelling reefs at Fowl Cay, and the trails on Moriah Harbour Cay.
The BNT is currently raising funds to construct a Welcome Centre at The Ferry, Little Exuma.
As early as the mid-1980s concerned citizens began expressing the need to protect Moriah Harbour Cay and its surrounding areas. Led by Basil Minns, an avid birdwatcher, fisherman, and respected member of the community, a campaign was forged and gained momentum in the late 1990s. A broad spectrum of stakeholders got involved, including students and adults from across Exuma, who wrote numerous letters to the Prime Minister and other government officials. They called for the Government to establish the national park and within months, the “Save Moriah Harbour Cay Project” had attracted a significant following and national attention.
Widespread support for the national park continued, with the Exuma Tourism and Environmental Advisory Committee, Local Government, bonefish guides, and other civic groups endorsing the effort. Exuma residents and other supporters wrote articles and letters to the editor about Moriah Harbour Cay and the need for a national park. Meetings were held on Exuma to discuss boundaries and rules for what would be a national park. It was agreed during these early sessions that traditional uses of the area would be maintained, including bonefishing and harvesting of the silver top palm.
In April 2002, the Government of The Bahamas declared the area a national park, assigning the management of The Moriah Harbour Cay National Park (MHCNP) to the BNT. The following year, when the boundaries were officially gazetted for Exuma, Moriah Harbour Cay and about half of the proposed protected area were excluded from the boundaries of the national park. BNT and supporters of the original proposal continued to advocate for the excluded area and eventually succeeded. The expansion of MHCNP was approved in 2015, as part of a national protected area declaration by The Government of The Bahamas.
The effort to save Moriah Harbour Cay, with its humble beginnings, evolved into a campaign that took the national stage. Its success is attributed to the tireless efforts of persons like Basil and Jane Minns, and many other concerned individuals, groups, and organizations that took part in the grassroots movement.
To learn more about Basil Minns and the fight to protect Moriah Harbour Cay, read our story: Basil Minns: “Father of the Moriah Harbour Cay National Park”.